A PROPOSED ballot initiative about teacher seniority has come along at a delicate time for public education in Massachusetts. Even as state and local education officials are working through more rigorous ways of evaluating teachers, the education-reform group Stand for Children is mounting a ballot initiative to ensure that performance in the classroom trumps seniority when it comes to staffing decisions.
If the initiative passes in November, it would counter the “last in, first out’’ layoff provisions in some school districts and the so-called “bumping’’ of young, talented teachers by veteran teachers. These are worthy goals. But it’s not clear yet if the state would benefit from a rancorous fight over a ballot initiative, especially in light of the good work already being done by state and local education officials in the area of teacher evaluation. Last summer, the state Board of Education adopted new evaluation regulations for teachers and tougher measures to rid schools of ineffective teachers. By 2014, all school districts will be required to implement the new regulations.